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4/13/2007 12:16:00 PM

Who are the best (and worst) coaches in college hoops?

Oakland Arena
Billy Donovan has our vote for best hoops coach in the nation. Who gets your vote?
Photo by AP
On Wednesday,'s Stewart Mandel presented his list of the 10 top coaches in college basketball right now (so the Lute Olson's of the world don't make the list, despite having a great career record). Here are his top three:

Billy Donovan, Florida – The 41-year-old just pulled off one of the great coaching feats of the modern era, molding a cast of four largely unheralded freshmen three years ago into the nucleus of a selfless, highly cohesive juggernaut that pulled off the sport's first repeat national championship in 15 years.

Roy Williams, UNC – His 524 wins through 19 seasons far eclipse that of any other coach in history (Jerry Tarkanian had 436), and, much like the way his team plays, he only seems to be picking up the pace, having reestablished UNC as an annual national-title threat (the Tar Heels could start next season No. 1).

Jim Calhoun, UConn – Yes, the Huskies are coming off their worst season since 1992-93, but that can happen when you lose a record five NBA Draft picks. Before that, Calhoun had won two national titles and earned five No. 1 or 2 NCAA seeds in an eight-year span.

But what fun would a list of top coaches be without listing some who are, well, not doing a very good job. Here are some of our picks for worst coach:

Tommy Amaker, Harvard – The former Michigan coach racked up a mediocre 109-83 record in six season at Ann Arbor. The Fab Five would not be proud.

Skip Prosser, Wake Forest – Prosser has compiled a 111-52 record in five seasons at Wake, but the Demon Deacons are 8-24 in ACC play since Chris Paul left.

John Brady, LSU – While Brady deserves credit for leading the Tigers to the Final Four last season, the team didn't even make the tourney this year and Tyrus Thomas' antics in his first NBA season show how ill-prepared he was for the big leagues.

Now we want to hear from you. Who are the best and worst coaches in college basketball?


Posted: 1:29 PM   by Anonymous
Thank you for including Jim Calhoun. No coach has done more over the last decade and received less recognition.
Posted: 1:39 PM   by Anonymous
I think you also need to consider the talent that some of those schools get compared to the others. I would argue that the players the Wisconsin and West Virginia get are inferior to Duke, Carolina, and UNCONN's worst classes. I know some of you will say with success comes better players and I realize that but somehting has to be said about what the Bo Ryan's and Dick Bennett's of the world have done for college basketball.
Posted: 2:00 PM   by Jkterp
Except for Gary Williams-- everyone seems to forget that he took a program that was practically given the death penalty following Bias, Bob Wade, etc, and turned it into a national chamiponship program
Posted: 2:27 PM   by Anonymous
Steve Alford (ex Iowa Coach) - Never lived up to hype after winning Big Ten Tournament in his second year as Iowa Coach. He displayed an unheralded lack of ability to recruit, leading to only three big ten winning seasons and three big dance births during his tenure. The last NCAA appearing concluded swiftly when the number three seeded hawkeyes collapsed in the final moments of their first round match, losing to Northwestern State.
Posted: 2:27 PM   by Anonymous
Steve Alford without question is one of the worst. He is full of false hopes yet does not deliver. His teams underachieve and he cannot recruit worth a damn. Not only is he a bad coach, he also is definately not a people person and that is his biggest knock against him. He was going to be run out of Iowa so he took a major step down to go to New Mexico, a program that does not register anywhere on the national scene.
Posted: 2:34 PM   by Anonymous
Nobody gets more McDonalds AA than Coach K, yet season after season he fails to produce...
Posted: 2:40 PM   by Anonymous
Take Roy of list. He won a title with Matt Daugherty's players and choked off way too many games at Kansas and I am not talking about the final four games. He is a good coach but not one of the best. Carolina fans will realize this in a couple of years when he has great teams that fizzle out in the tournament. Kansas '97?
Posted: 3:02 PM   by Anonymous
I appreciate what Jim Calhoun has done over the last decade. With that said, this past season was extremely poor. Good programs ebb and flow with talent, but other coaches, such as Bo Ryan, Tom Izzo and Todd Lickliter do so much more when the talent is down or the team is young.
Posted: 3:11 PM   by Anonymous
Steve Alford cannot hold a candle to Tommy Amaker as the worst coach. With all of the crooks that hang around UM ready to take care of the Webbers, Traylors, etc., you would think that he could land a decent recruit and get them to perform. At least Thad Matta, in the same circumstance, does not scare away the recruits and actually is a good floor coach.
Posted: 3:14 PM   by Anonymous
Roy should be at the top of the list with his track record (conference championships, regular season and tournament as well as NCAA play). Matt Doherty (not Daugherty) did nothing with HIS players. Roy made them champions. You don't win as many games as he does, as fast as he does without talent. Watch out of the Heels next year!
Posted: 4:14 PM   by Anonymous
Coach K
Dave Liato
Billy Taylor
Posted: 4:39 PM   by jason
Leonard Hamilton of FSU. No coach has ever lost more one-basket games and FSU hasn't made the Tournament in a decade. Quite simply, a disaster.
Posted: 4:43 PM   by Anonymous
Explain to me why Roy Williams gets grief for winning with another coaches players... But Urban Myer got nothing but praise ever though he won with Ron Zook's players. (The same Ron Zook Florida fans ran out on a rail)
Posted: 4:45 PM   by Anonymous
Tim Welsh of Providence is one of the worst. Sure it's a tough place to recruit, but he has done little with the talent he's had. His March record speaks for itself. PC is just too cheap to fire him.
Posted: 4:45 PM   by Anonymous
How about Lou Gosset Jr. I mean Oliver P. down at Clemson. Talking about a non-basketball team in a basketball superhouse confernece. If not for the ACC's pro-Duke bias refs, the 'ole tigers would have been big dance bound. And that is a LARGE accomplishment for that team.
Posted: 4:48 PM   by Anonymous
How bout the West By-Gawd Virginia coach? Honestly, how do you get decent basketball players to go to that couch burning school? But some how he managed to win the championship.

-Yes, I am one of those wackos that gives the NIT props compared to the NCAA tourney. Their team selection and seeding is top notch. You really think the top 65 teams made the big dance??? Not even remotely close. All the teams in the NIT could have beat and 16, 15, 14 and most 13 seeds in the big tourney.
Posted: 4:50 PM   by Anonymous
Coach K should have been on your worst list. Duke stunk the place up this year. Had it not been for the fact that his team has DU(I)KE across their jerseys, they would have been a 13 seed (at best) if they made the tourney at all.

How do you have that many AA's on your team and play THAT bad??? This is the same coach K that cut Gilbert Arenas off Team USA. Maybe he's lossing his mind, kinda like Hitler, who coach K strongly resembles.
Posted: 5:04 PM   by Anonymous
New Mexico has as good if not better national reputation than Iowa in basketball. It is a basketball school not a football school like Iowa. The facilities and fan support a much better at UNM than at Iowa. He did not meet the expectations at Iowa, most will not, his move will prove a good one for both UNM and Alford.
Posted: 5:52 PM   by Anonymous
Nolan Richardson is the only head coach that won a NCAA National Championship, NIT Championship, Junior College Championship, and Conference Championship. He had a meltdown at Arkansas, but he's still did more with less.
Posted: 8:16 PM   by Anonymous
Steve Alford is one of the worst coaches. Great player but he cannot coach. Why New Mexico State would pay him as much as they are is beyond me. Some people are great at selling snake oil.
Posted: 8:20 PM   by Anonymous
As far as the worst coaches go, please pay mind to Neil Dougherty of TCU. For some reason the guy keeps coming back, even though his teams are terrible. He inherited a semi-decent team and proceeded to make them terrible. That's the hallmark of a bad coach.
Posted: 10:32 PM   by Anonymous
Bo Ryan, a man who has won over 75% of his games at home and is one of the fastest coaches to reach 100 wins ever, the Badgers also defeated Ohio State during the year, which finsihed second in the NCAA Tournament. And the Badgers only have one McDonald's All-American and that's center Brian Butch, not even the Badgers most explosive player.
Well, one out of three ain't bad. Roy Williams took a great program in disarray, set it back on the course to greatness, won a National Title, and then has almost completely rebuilt a team which was hollowed out more than any in history.
The jury is still entirely out on Billy Donovan - his team last year won in a joke field, and they won this year because the rebuilding of the real basketball powers (e.g., Ohio State and UNC) isn't yet complete. Let's see if his 2007-08 Gators have a better record than the 2005-06 Tar Heels. My money says they won't. But, if they do, then he will have proved he can coach.
Jim Calhoun - Puleeze!!!! No judge of character, no judge of hoops ability, no judge of much of anything.
Posted: 11:15 PM   by Anonymous
roy williams is not 1 of thebest he is 1 of the worse.

did he ever win it all b4 unc with some1 else's team coach daughtery

he lost for UNC this year with his 100,000 lineups and his stupid timeouts against georgetown..not to mention a 3 pt lead with 35 sec left and did not tellteam to FOUL

put ROY in worse coach rankns #1
Posted: 11:40 PM   by Anonymous
Bruce Pearl has to be mentioned here. He has turned Tennessee basketball around.
Posted: 12:23 AM   by Anonymous
Roy Williams is definitely one of the best coaches out there....he can accomplish so much with next year's team
Posted: 1:58 AM   by Anonymous
Ben Howland isn't one of the three best coaches in the country? After his work with three different programs? - jaythescrub
Posted: 9:59 AM   by Anonymous
Look, there are TONS of great head coaches in college basketball. It's easy to say that a coach is good if he "gets alot out of his players", but what about coaches who live up to those expectations in the face of incredible pressure.

I respect Bo Ryan alot as a coach, but until Wisconsin makes a Final Four under him, he'll need to have a bit better tourney record.

I am a huge MSU fan and love Izzo to death but the fact that we haven't won the Big Ten since 2001 is a bit frustrating even with our tourney success in 2003 and 2005.

The most overrated guy is by far Roy Williams. He is a terrific recruiter and a decent coach, but the kind of players he has should yield a much better tourney record.
Posted: 11:53 AM   by Anonymous
Coach K is the best by far. He can't just recruit anyone. You have to be able to read and write to get into Duke. GOT ROY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted: 1:12 PM   by Anonymous
Dan Monson at Minnesota,

Big Ten school with decent basketball history (despite sanctions under Clem Haskins) could not recruit even home grown products and not a good game coach.
Posted: 2:55 PM   by Anonymous
If you really believe that Roy Williams is not one of the top ten coaches in the country then you are not a college basketball fan. He is top one or two, he is criticized for winning with Daugherty's players? He was able to take a team with that much talent and make them a national champion. He consistantly brings in top recruits year after year and gets his teams which are loaded with talent, to play together and share the spotlight.
Posted: 3:00 PM   by Anonymous
Glad to see not many are on the Coach K band wagon. With the amount of talent that he has recruited over the past couple of years, he has yet to reach expectations or even come close. The day that DUKE becomes more about the athletes instead of Coach K is the day he will have humbled himself enough to possibly be the greatest. Until then he will always be behind Dean, Roy and a few others.
Posted: 3:40 PM   by AD
Bruce Weber. In my opinion, he's the modern day John Wooden. Look at that Illinois team from two years ago. Have you seen anything like it in a long time? And look what he did this year with Northwestern-level talent. He's a prophet.
Posted: 3:59 PM   by Anonymous
You can't have a list of the best coaches right now without including Bruce Pearl at Tennessee. The man took a program that had floundered for years and was nearly finished off and buried by Buzz Peterson, and brought it back to life. He's a dynamic motivator, a top notch promoter, he can recruit and he can definitely coach. The Vols could easily be a final four team next year. They should have been at least an elite 8 this year, but choked the final couple of minutes against tOSU.
Posted: 7:32 PM   by Anonymous
Bill Self, are you kidding me??? No final fours with all the talent that he has coached at all his schools. All hype!!! Kelvin Sampson is a cheat, what did he ever do at OU besides violate NCAA Rules. Give me Tom Izzo, Bruce Weber, Mark Few, and Phil Martelli any day. Great coaches who are even better people than win the right way!
Posted: 8:43 PM   by Anonymous
Anyone that doesn't know that Tom Izzo is one of the best in the business doesn't know college basketball. He learned from one of the masters in Jud Heathcote and it shows as with usually less talent than others, his teams continue to improve over the course of a season and overachieve. In those years when he has the talent to compete with the glory programs, his teams do even better. Ask the coaches who they admire and I'll bet that Izzo will be on everyone's top 10 list.
Posted: 9:20 PM   by Anonymous
I am a student at LSU and I believe bready could be the worst coach on campus
Posted: 11:28 PM   by Anonymous
Coach K should be at the top of your list. He's been more consistent than any of the others for a longer period. For those who are hammering Coach K for last season, please remember his best recruits leave early for the NBA. Loul Deng STARTS for the Chicago Bulls. Shaun Livingston STARTS for the LA Clippers. Kris Humphries comes off the bench for the Denver Nuggets. All were Duke recruits originally. Duke is in the Final Four if they stay in school, which is where Coach K has led Duke many, many times. Look it up. I dare you.
Posted: 12:10 AM   by Anonymous
Skip Prosser got a raw deal from Chris Paul, who told him at the end of the season that he was staying (as well as his parents). It is hard enough to recruit a PG to backup CP3, but why try when he's coming back? Granted Skip should have been more prepared for this, but we ended up signing Shamaine Dukes late in the period, and had to have Justin Gray run the show. Great shooter, crappy ballhandler. This season WF had a Ish Smith in there, but you won't succeed in the ACC starting three frosh, esp at PG. Anyone who witnessed the progression of Kyle Visser over his 4 years saw the coaching abilities of Skip and his staff.
Posted: 1:42 PM   by Anonymous
I think we need to include John Beilein. Yess I am a WVU fan and I was pretty mad at JB for leaving,( he pretty much payed $2.5 mill to leave, which that now will be paying for our new coach haha), but I'm over it. In the 5 years he was with us he did great things. I guess the real test that will show us if he is that good will be his tenure at Mich. He'll be gone in about 5 years mark my words.
Posted: 2:22 PM   by Anonymous
John Brady is a P.R. nightmare, besides being a horrible coach. When he is finally shown the door at LSU, cell phones sales will be his next career choice.
Posted: 3:20 PM   by Anonymous
Roy Williams is a good coach to win a lot of games but with so much NBA talent on his teams at Kansas, he should have won a title at least once. Too many meltdowns with NBA talent does not deserve consideration for being a top 10 coach.
Tom Izzo has to be considered a great coach with the job he does. He always gets his kids to play hard, tough, blue-collar basketball and make good runs in the tournament. He has to be considered the top coach for getting the most from his teams.
Posted: 3:34 PM   by Anonymous
1. Bo Ryan
2. Thad Matta
3. John Thompson III
4. Dave Leitao
5. Pat Schluter
Posted: 4:10 PM   by Anonymous
Posted: 4:27 PM   by Anonymous
Tyrus Thomas' antics? Are we still talking about that one thing about the dunk contest that was WAY OVERBLOWN. Granted LSU was a MONSTROUS dissapointment this year, but 1 great year and 1 awful year does not equal one of the worst coaches in the unfair assessment.
Posted: 5:27 PM   by Anonymous
two words: Pat Summit
she's a LADY'S coach but i'm pretty sure she could be pretty dang successful coaching a men's team..
Posted: 7:09 PM   by Woody
Coaches that should be considered are Rick Pitino. I think he is as good as any coach out there. Ben Howland. He's been in the final four the last two years. Jamie Dixon. His teams have been consistantly at the top of a tough Big East Conference and they get zero McDonald All-Americans.
Posted: 7:49 PM   by Anonymous
I think that Brady is a horrible coach, but Tyrus Thomas's antics? He echoed the sentiment of what everyone sees the dunk contest now. He has gotten playing time since the Bulls lost Nocioni, and has provided blocks, boards, dunks, and energy to Chicago. He is playing a major role a contender to win their conference. Too bad he wasn't ready...

More importantly, Brady used Thomas correctly. Thomas is a college power forward, but he is a 3 in the NBA.
If we're talking NBA problems, look at Roy William's championship team, Marvin Williams disappointing on a bad team, as is Ray Felton. Sean May is in bad shape, though he has shown his ability, while Rashad McCants didn't impact the T-Wolves last year, and tore his ACL this year.

Back on the subject, I'd like to put up a vote for Lute Olsen. He is just living off his reputation now, while underachieving as a team and alienating his players. For all that talk about Arizona having bad apples, it seems like Olsen just keeps finding them. I'm not sure its a player thing anymore.
Posted: 7:51 PM   by Anonymous
TOM IZZO. Plain and simple. At one point 4 final fours in seven years. The last couple years he has had a severe drop in talent and yet seems to get the most out of them. Isnt that the definition of a good coach? Not to mention high graduation rates and producing NBA players, no school has more players in the NBA with the exception of UCONN. Another point would be the carosel of izzo assistant coaches that recieve head coaching jobs. Bo Ryan and Jim Boheim are also great coaches
Posted: 9:35 PM   by Anonymous
I don't wanna hear the "did more with less" argument. Isn't part of the coaching job to recruit players as well? So if Roy Williams does well with great players, then props to him for recruiting those great players. And in most instances, the coach lands the recruits, not the program. Just ask Mike Davis.
Posted: 11:07 PM   by Tim Burleson
This guy coaches a mid-major I-AA football power in a town without TV support nor a large daily newspaper. He has dealt with tragedy transfers and people who write him off. yet this year he took Appalachian State to its first NIT, winning an ESPN bracketbuster game and the San Juan Shoortout in the process. The coach? Houston Fancher.
Posted: 4:13 AM   by Anonymous
skip prosser is the worst coach in the ncaa. his team in 04-05 was stacked a front court with guys all 6-9 and eric williams was an offensive force who dismantled sheldon williams regularly. justin gray, taron downey were studs who could dribble and shoot the 3. kyle visser and chris ellis were good back up big men, and do i need to add chris paul best pg prospect since jason kidd. simply one of the most complete teams i have ever seen and to not get to the sweet 16? heck they beat UNC the eventual champs by 10. he screwed up the season. plus the man coachs at a school with 3 guys who were invited to be on the olympic team. paul, duncan, josh howard. how can he not get better recruits?
Posted: 10:31 AM   by Anonymous
-Billy Donovan: knows how to handle the thugs he had at UF
-Matt Painter: wins games with players that nobody else can win with
-Bo Ryan: having a #1 team in Wis. He deserves it

-Kelvin Sampson: used to be the head of the coaches association. He knows the rules but makes 550 illegal phone calls. That is knowingly choosing the WRONG thing to do. He then leaves Oklahoma to be rewarded with a huge contract.

-Bill Self: has more talent than anybody, but can't win big games
Posted: 10:51 AM   by Anonymous
Billy Gillispie has to get some notice here. They guy took a team that was winless in conference the year before he came and turned them into a sweet 16 team in just 3 years. The Ags had not played in the tourney since 1988, and now they are a national force.
Posted: 11:04 AM   by Anonymous
What about Bob Hill? 2 and 26 in his last season at Fordham. That translates into head coach of the supersonics.
Posted: 11:28 AM   by Anonymous
What about Bruce Pearl? He takes a team full of young players and is able to take Ohio State down to the last seconds twice! Not to mention a strong wins over Texas and Florida. At least give him an honorable mention
Posted: 12:15 PM   by Anonymous
Most underrated coach? Oliver Purnell at Clemson. As a Dayton Flyer fan, I know how valuable a coach Purnell is. He led Dayton to three NCAA tournament appearances in his 8 years there - Clemson started this year at 17-0 until a 2nd half collapse left them out of the Big Dance, but Purnell is well-respected in the coaching community, being asked to be an assistant coach at the Olympic and Pan-Am games.

Worst coach? Current UD coach Brian Gregory. With his constant stalking of the sidelines and hyperactivity, as well as notoriously recruiting 1-3 position players (guards and forwards) only, he flat-out stinks.
Posted: 12:28 PM   by Anonymous
The idea that New Mexico has a better national reputation then Iowa in basketball is laughable and only minutely plausable because of Steve Alford's tenure at Iowa. Good luck. Before long you'll be checking out daily.
Posted: 3:01 AM   by Anonymous
i agree that skip prosser is a miserable coach. he can't recruit or coach. i frankly don't understand how a basketball school like wake is not up in arms over such a lowsey team.
Posted: 3:33 AM   by Anonymous
Where's the love for Rick Barnes? People don't like the way he managed The Kevin Durant Show, but how many other freshmen have swept the national POY awards lately...or ever? Kevin Durant is a freak, this we know. But doesn't Barnes deserve even the slightest bit of credit for putting KD in a position to be successful? For taking a team decimated by early NBA defections, forced to start FOUR freshmen and a sophomore to a 25 win season and a 4 seed in the NCAA tourney? For taking a program that for the majority of its existence was largely irrelevant on a national level and turning into one of the nation's elite? For year in and year out recruiting some of the nation's top talent to essentially play second fiddle at a football school? I'm not arguing that he's the top coach in the nation, but I find it very difficult to justify leaving him out of the top 10...especially after reading the shaky arguments for some of the other "top 10" coaches. (EX: His teams have been bad lately, but they could be GRRRREAT next year!!)
Posted: 12:35 PM   by Anonymous
I can't beleive I haven't seen this name for one of the best: Seth Greenberg of Virginia Tech. He took a program from the bottom of the Big East to near the top of the ACC. If you think the Hokies aren't there to stay, just look at the 2007 recruiting class coming in.
Posted: 11:07 PM   by Anonymous
Pat Summitt is the best coach period. Men or women. And Bruce Pearl has made a heck of a turnaround for the Vols.
Posted: 1:52 AM   by Anonymous
Why you left out Ben Howland at UCLA is beyond of the best defensive coaches in the game...back to back Final Fours to addition, by leaving out Coack K, you haven't a clue.
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